Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 3rd, 2016

Why Brexit happened — and what to do next

Leave vote regions Brexit: Regions I barely visited in my life

The regions most tolerant of immigrants have the highest numbers of immigrants.

We are embarrassingly unaware of how divided our societies are, and Brexit grew out of a deep, unexamined divide between those that fear globalization and those that embrace it, says social scientist Alexander Betts. How do we now address that fear as well as growing disillusionment with the political establishment, while refusing to give in to xenophobia and nationalism?

Join Betts as he discusses four post-Brexit steps toward a more inclusive world.

Alexander Betts. Social scientist. Alexander Betts explores ways societies might empower refugees rather than pushing them to the margins. Full bio

Filmed June 2016

I am British. Never before has the phrase “I am British” elicited so much pity.

0:23 (Laughter)

I come from an island where many of us like to believe there’s been a lot of continuity over the last thousand years. We tend to have historically imposed change on others but done much less of it ourselves.

 it came as an immense shock to me when I woke up on the morning of June 24 to discover that my country had voted to leave the European Union, my Prime Minister had resigned, and Scotland was considering a referendum that could bring to an end the very existence of the United Kingdom.

that was an immense shock for me, and it was an immense shock for many people, but it was also something that, over the following several days, created a complete political meltdown in my country.

There were calls for a second referendum, almost as if, following a sports match, we could ask the opposition for a replay. Everybody was blaming everybody else.

People blamed the Prime Minister for calling the referendum in the first place. They blamed the leader of the opposition for not fighting it hard enough. The young accused the old. The educated blamed the less well-educated.

That complete meltdown was made even worse by the most tragic element of it: levels of xenophobia and racist abuse in the streets of Britain at a level that I have never seen before in my lifetime. People are now talking about whether my country is becoming a Little England, or, as one of my colleagues put it, whether we’re about to become a 1950s nostalgia theme park floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

2:01 (Laughter)

2:04 But my question is really, should we have the degree of shock that we’ve experienced since? Was it something that took place overnight? Or are there deeper structural factors that have led us to where we are today?

I want to take a step back and ask two very basic questions.

First, what does Brexit represent, not just for my country, but for all of us around the world? And

second, what can we do about it? How should we all respond?

what does Brexit represent? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Brexit teaches us many things about our society and about societies around the world. It highlights in ways that we seem embarrassingly unaware of how divided our societies are.

The vote split along lines of age, education, class and geography.

Young people didn’t turn out to vote in great numbers, but those that did wanted to remain.

Older people really wanted to leave the European Union.

Geographically, it was London and Scotland that most strongly committed to being part of the European Union, while in other parts of the country there was very strong ambivalence.

Those divisions are things we really need to recognize and take seriously. But more profoundly, the vote teaches us something about the nature of politics today.

Contemporary politics is no longer just about right and left. It’s no longer just about tax and spend. It’s about globalization. The fault line of contemporary politics is between those that embrace globalization and those that fear globalization.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.|By Alexander Betts

If we look at why those who wanted to leave — we call them “Leavers,” as opposed to “Remainers” — we see two factors in the opinion polls that really mattered.

The first was immigration, and the second sovereignty, and these represent a desire for people to take back control of their own lives and the feeling that they are unrepresented by politicians.

But those ideas are ones that signify fear and alienation. They represent a retreat back towards nationalism and borders in ways that many of us would reject.

What I want to suggest is the picture is more complicated than that, that liberal internationalists, like myself, and I firmly include myself in that picture, need to write ourselves back into the picture in order to understand how we’ve got to where we are today.

When we look at the voting patterns across the United Kingdom, we can visibly see the divisions. The blue areas show Remain and the red areas Leave. When I looked at this, what personally struck me was the very little time in my life I’ve actually spent in many of the red areas.

I suddenly realized that, looking at the top 50 areas in the UK that have the strongest Leave vote, I’ve spent a combined total of four days of my life in those areas. In some of those places, I didn’t even know the names of the voting districts. It was a real shock to me, and it suggested that people like me who think of ourselves as inclusive, open and tolerant, perhaps don’t know our own countries and societies nearly as well as we like to believe.

5:37 (Applause)

And the challenge that comes from that is we need to find a new way to narrate globalization to those people, to recognize that for those people who have not necessarily been to university, who haven’t necessarily grown up with the Internet, that don’t get opportunities to travel, they may be unpersuaded by the narrative that we find persuasive in our often liberal bubbles.  

t means that we need to reach out more broadly and understand. In the Leave vote, a minority have peddled the politics of fear and hatred, creating lies and mistrust around, for instance, the idea that the vote on Europe could reduce the number of refugees and asylum-seekers coming to Europe, when the vote on leaving had nothing to do with immigration from outside the European Union.

But for a significant majority of the Leave voters the concern was disillusionment with the political establishment. This was a protest vote for many, a sense that nobody represented them, that they couldn’t find a political party that spoke for them, and so they rejected that political establishment.

This replicates around Europe and much of the liberal democratic world.

We see it with the rise in popularity of Donald Trump in the United States, with the growing nationalism of Viktor Orbán in Hungary, with the increase in popularity of Marine Le Pen in France. The specter of Brexit is in all of our societies.

the question I think we need to ask is my second question, which is how should we collectively respond?

For all of us who care about creating liberal, open, tolerant societies, we urgently need a new vision, a vision of a more tolerant, inclusive globalization, one that brings people with us rather than leaving them behind.

That vision of globalization is one that has to start by a recognition of the positive benefits of globalization. The consensus amongst economists is that free trade, the movement of capital, the movement of people across borders benefit everyone on aggregate.

The consensus amongst international relations scholars is that globalization brings interdependence, which brings cooperation and peace.

But globalization also has redistributive effects. It creates winners and losers.

To take the example of migration, we know that immigration is a net positive for the economy as a whole under almost all circumstances. But we also have to be very aware that there are redistributive consequences, that importantly, low-skilled immigration can lead to a reduction in wages for the most impoverished in our societies and also put pressure on house prices.

That doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s positive, but it means more people have to share in those benefits and recognize them.

In 2002, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, gave a speech at Yale University, and that speech was on the topic of inclusive globalization. That was the speech in which he coined that term. And he said, and I paraphrase, The glass house of globalization has to be open to all if it is to remain secure. Bigotry and ignorance are the ugly face of exclusionary and antagonistic globalization.”

That idea of inclusive globalization was briefly revived in 2008 in a conference on progressive governance involving many of the leaders of European countries.

But amid austerity and the financial crisis of 2008, the concept disappeared almost without a trace. Globalization has been taken to support a neoliberal agenda. It’s perceived to be part of an elite agenda rather than something that benefits all. And it needs to be reclaimed on a far more inclusive basis than it is today.

So the question is, how can we achieve that goal? How can we balance on the one hand addressing fear and alienation while on the other hand refusing vehemently to give in to xenophobia and nationalism?

That is the question for all of us. And I think, as a social scientist, that social science offers some places to start. Our transformation has to be about both ideas and about material change, and I want to give you four ideas as a starting point.

The first relates to the idea of civic education. What stands out from Brexit is the gap between public perception and empirical reality. It’s been suggested that we’ve moved to a post-factual society, where evidence and truth no longer matter, and lies have equal status to the clarity of evidence.

How can we rebuild respect for truth and evidence into our liberal democracies? It has to begin with education, but it has to start with the recognition that there are huge gaps.

 In 2014, the pollster Ipsos MORI published a survey on attitudes to immigration, and it showed that as numbers of immigrants increase, so public concern with immigration also increases, although it obviously didn’t unpack causality, because this could equally be to do not so much with numbers but the political and media narrative around it.

But the same survey also revealed huge public misinformation and misunderstanding about the nature of immigration. For example, in these attitudes in the United Kingdom, the public believed that levels of asylum were a greater proportion of immigration than they were, but they also believed the levels of educational migration were far lower as a proportion of overall migration than they actually are.

So we have to address this misinformation, the gap between perception and reality on key aspects of globalization. And that can’t just be something that’s left to our schools, although that’s important to begin at an early age. It has to be about lifelong civic participation and public engagement that we all encourage as societies.

The second thing that I think is an opportunity is the idea to encourage more interaction across diverse communities.  

One of the things that stands out for me very strikingly, looking at immigration attitudes in the United Kingdom, is that ironically, the regions of my country that are the most tolerant of immigrants have the highest numbers of immigrants.

So for instance, London and the Southeast have the highest numbers of immigrants, and they are also by far the most tolerant areas. It’s those areas of the country that have the lowest levels of immigration that actually are the most exclusionary and intolerant towards migrants.

So we need to encourage exchange programs. We need to ensure that older generations who maybe can’t travel get access to the Internet. We need to encourage, even on a local and national level, more movement, more participation, more interaction with people who we don’t know and whose views we might not necessarily agree with.

The third thing that I think is crucial, though, and this is really fundamental, is we have to ensure that everybody shares in the benefits of globalization.

This illustration from the Financial Times post-Brexit is really striking. It shows tragically that those people who voted to leave the European Union were those who actually benefited the most materially from trade with the European Union.

But the problem is that those people in those areas didn’t perceive themselves to be beneficiaries. They didn’t believe that they were actually getting access to material benefits of increased trade and increased mobility around the world.

I work on questions predominantly to do with refugees, and one of the ideas I spent a lot of my time preaching, mainly to developing countries around the world, is that in order to encourage the integration of refugees, we can’t just benefit the refugee populations, we also have to address the concerns of the host communities in local areas.

But in looking at that, one of the policy prescriptions is that we have to provide disproportionately better education facilities, health facilities, access to social services in those regions of high immigration to address the concerns of those local populations. But while we encourage that around the developing world, we don’t take those lessons home and incorporate them in our own societies.

if we’re going to really take seriously the need to ensure people share in the economic benefits, our businesses and corporations need a model of globalization that recognizes that they, too, have to take people with them.

The fourth and final idea I want to put forward is an idea that we need more responsible politics. There’s very little social science evidence that compares attitudes on globalization. But from the surveys that do exist, what we can see is there’s huge variation across different countries and time periods in those countries for attitudes and tolerance of questions like migration and mobility on the one hand and free trade on the other.

But one hypothesis that I think emerges from a cursory look at that data is the idea that polarized societies are far less tolerant of globalization.

It’s the societies like Sweden in the past, like Canada today, where there is a centrist politics, where right and left work together, that we encourage supportive attitudes towards globalization.

And what we see around the world today is a tragic polarization, a failure to have dialogue between the extremes in politics, and a gap in terms of that liberal center ground that can encourage communication and a shared understanding. We might not achieve that today, but at the very least we have to call upon our politicians and our media to drop a language of fear and be far more tolerant of one another.

 These ideas are very tentative, and that’s in part because this needs to be an inclusive and shared project.

16:37 I am still British. I am still European. I am still a global citizen.

For those of us who believe that our identities are not mutually exclusive, we have to all work together to ensure that globalization takes everyone with us and doesn’t leave people behind. Only then will we truly reconcile democracy and globalization.

Trailing a butterfly by Mahmoud Darwish (Part 2, December 30, 2008)

Hope is neither matter nor a concept. It is a talent

What…Why all that?

He is walking alone, having a short discussion with himself.  He is uttering words that are not meant to mean anything “What… Why is all that?”

He does not mean to complain or even to inquire; the nonsense sentence is not meant to starting a tempo that could aid for a youthful walk.

As he repeats “What…Why all that” he feels that he is in company.  The passerby does not believe that he is a lunatic; he is probably a poet receiving revelations from Satan.

He didn’t know why he recalled Genghis Khan; maybe he saw a white horse without a saddle, flying over a destroyed building in the valley.

An old man was pissing by an eucalyptus tree; the ascending young girls from the valley laughed at him and threw pistachios at him.

Two strangers

He looks up and sees a shining star.  He looks down and sees his grave in the valley.

He looks at a beautiful woman who does not notice him.  He looks in the mirror and a stranger looking like him is reflected to him

We arrived late

There is a precarious stage we label “maturity”; we are neither optimist nor pessimist.

We are past passion, longing, and recalling the opposite names of things.

We are too confused between forms and contents.

We acquired the habit of pondering before speaking.  We adopted the style of physicians inspecting a wound.

We try to remember the past and wonder “How many mistakes have we committed? Have we reached wisdom a tad late?”

We are not sure from where the wind is blowing; what is the benefit if someone is still waiting for us by the foot of the mountain to share a prayer for our safe journey?

We are neither optimist nor pessimist; just a tad late.

We wish the lad was a tree

An ancient poet said “I wished the lad was a rock”.  It would have been more appropriate if he wished the lad to be a tree.

A big tree cares for the smaller one; it prolongs its shadow and sends a bird, now and then, to keep company.

No tree violates its neighboring tree, and never mocks it if it does not bear fruit.

When a tree is transformed into a boat it learns to swim; when shaped in a door it keeps the secrets, when a desk it teaches the poet never to become a logger.

A tree stands respectful to passersby; it bends lightly with majesty to the winds.  I wish the lad was a tree.

The talent of hope

Whenever he thought of hope he felt tired and bored. He invented a tricky illusion and said “Now, how can I measure a mirage?”

He rummaged through his documents and dusty files of who he was before his invention.

He could not find any copy where he might have noted down, events of fast beating heart and carelessness.

He could not find a trace of standing in the rain for no reason.

Each time he thinks of hope the distance widens between a heavy body and a heart inflicted with wisdom.

He opened a window and saw two cats playing with a puppy dog.  He said: “hope is not the opposite of abjectness; maybe it is faith in a God who is careless; a God who let us rely on our individual talents to pierce through the cloud.”

He said : “Hope is neither matter nor a concept. It is a talent”.

He swallowed a pill for blood pressure; he forgot to query Hope…he felt some kind of happiness of unknown source.

A life of purpose? A new philosophy?

We each want to live a life of purpose, but where to start?

Better immersion than to live untouched

Jacqueline Novogratz introduces us to people she’s met in her work in “patient capital” — people who have immersed themselves in a cause, a community, a passion for justice. These human stories carry powerful moments of inspiration

Jacqueline Novogratz. Social entrepreneur

Jacqueline Novogratz founded and leads Acumen, a nonprofit that takes a businesslike approach to improving the lives of the poor. In her book “The Blue Sweater” she tells stories from the philanthropy, which emphasizes sustainable bottom-up solutions over traditional top-down aid. Full bio
Filmed Dec. 2010
I’ve been spending a lot of time traveling around the world these days, talking to groups of students and professionals, and everywhere I’m finding that I hear similar themes.
On the one hand, people say, “The time for change is now.” They want to be part of it. They talk about wanting lives of purpose and greater meaning.
But on the other hand, I hear people talking about fear, a sense of risk-aversion. They say, “I really want to follow a life of purpose, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t want to disappoint my family or friends.”
I work in global poverty. And they say, “I want to work in global poverty, but what will it mean about my career? Will I be marginalized? Will I not make enough money? Will I never get married or have children?”
And as a woman who didn’t get married until I was a lot older — and I’m glad I waited — (Laughter) — and has no children, I look at these young people and I say, “Your job is not to be perfect. Your job is only to be human. And nothing important happens in life without a cost.”
These conversations really reflect what’s happening at the national and international level. Our leaders and ourselves want everything, but we don’t talk about the costs. We don’t talk about the sacrifice.

“Our lives are so short, and our time on this planet is so precious, and all we have is each other.”|By Jacqueline Novogratz

1:29 One of my favorite quotes from literature was written by Tillie Olsen, the great American writer from the South. In a short story called “Oh Yes,” she talks about a white woman in the 1950s who has a daughter who befriends a little African American girl, and she looks at her child with a sense of pride, but she also wonders, what price will she pay?

Better immersion than to live untouched.” But the real question is, what is the cost of not daring? What is the cost of not trying?

I’ve been so privileged in my life to know extraordinary leaders who have chosen to live lives of immersion. One woman I knew who was a fellow at a program that I ran at the Rockefeller Foundation was named Ingrid Washinawatok.

She was a leader of the Menominee tribe, a Native American peoples. And when we would gather as fellows, she would push us to think about how the elders in Native American culture make decisions. And she said they would literally visualize the faces of children for 7 generations into the future, looking at them from the Earth, and they would look at them, holding them as stewards for that future.

Ingrid understood that we are connected to each other, not only as human beings, but to every living thing on the planet.

nd tragically, in 1999, when she was in Colombia working with the U’wa people, focused on preserving their culture and language, she and two colleagues were abducted and tortured and killed by the FARC.

And whenever we would gather the fellows after that, we would leave a chair empty for her spirit. And more than a decade later, when I talk to NGO fellows, whether in Trenton, New Jersey or the office of the White House, and we talk about Ingrid, they all say that they’re trying to integrate her wisdom and her spirit and really build on the unfulfilled work of her life’s mission. And when we think about legacy, I can think of no more powerful one, despite how short her life was.

I’ve been touched by Cambodian women beautiful women, women who held the tradition of the classical dance in Cambodia. And I met them in the early ’90s.

In the 1970s, under the Pol Pot regime, the Khmer Rouge killed over a million people, and they focused and targeted the elites and the intellectuals, the artists, the dancers. And at the end of the war, there were only 30 of these classical dancers still living.

And the women, who I was so privileged to meet when there were three survivors, told these stories about lying in their cots in the refugee camps. They said they would try so hard to remember the fragments of the dance, hoping that others were alive and doing the same.

one woman stood there with this perfect carriage, her hands at her side, and she talked about the reunion of the 30 after the war and how extraordinary it was. And these big tears fell down her face, but she never lifted her hands to move them.

And the women decided that they would train not the next generation of girls, because they had grown too old already, but the next generation. And I sat there in the studio watching these women clapping their hands — beautiful rhythms — as these little fairy pixies were dancing around them, wearing these beautiful silk colors.

I thought, after all this atrocity, this is how human beings really pray. Because they’re focused on honoring what is most beautiful about our past and building it into the promise of our future. And what these women understood is sometimes the most important things that we do and that we spend our time on are those things that we cannot measure.

 I also have been touched by the dark side of power and leadership. And I have learned that power, particularly in its absolute form, is an equal opportunity provider.

In 1986, I moved to Rwanda, and I worked with a very small group of Rwandan women to start that country’s first microfinance bank. And one of the women was Agnes — there on your extreme left — she was one of the first three women parliamentarians in Rwanda, and her legacy should have been to be one of the mothers of Rwanda. We built this institution based on social justice, gender equity, this idea of empowering women.

But Agnes cared more about the trappings of power than she did principle at the end.

And though she had been part of building a liberal party, a political party that was focused on diversity and tolerance, about three months before the genocide, she switched parties and joined the extremist party, Hutu Power, and she became the Minister of Justice under the genocide regime and was known for inciting men to kill faster and stop behaving like women.

She was convicted of category one crimes of genocide.

And I would visit her in the prisons, sitting side-by-side, knees touching, and I would have to admit to myself that monsters exist in all of us, but that maybe it’s not monsters so much, but the broken parts of ourselves, sadnesses, secret shame, and that ultimately it’s easy for demagogues to prey on those parts, those fragments, if you will, and to make us look at other beings, human beings, as lesser than ourselves — and in the extreme, to do terrible things.

there is no group more vulnerable to those kinds of manipulations than young men.

I’ve heard it said that the most dangerous animal on the planet is the adolescent male.

And so in a gathering where we’re focused on women, while it is so critical that we invest in our girls and we even the playing field and we find ways to honor them, we have to remember that the girls and the women are most isolated and violated and victimized and made invisible in those very societies where our men and our boys feel disempowered, unable to provide.

And that, when they sit on those street corners and all they can think of in the future is no job, no education, no possibility, well then it’s easy to understand how the greatest source of status can come from a uniform and a gun.

Sometimes very small investments can release enormous, infinite potential that exists in all of us. One of the Acumen Fund fellows at my organization, Suraj Sudhakar, has what we call moral imagination — the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and lead from that perspective.

And he’s been working with this young group of men who come from the largest slum in the world, Kibera (where is it?). And they’re incredible guys. And together they started a book club for a hundred people in the slums, and they’re reading many TED authors and liking it. And then they created a business plan competition. Then they decided that they would do TEDx’s.

And I have learned so much from Chris and Kevin and Alex and Herbert and all of these young men. Alex, in some ways, said it best. He said, “We used to feel like nobodies, but now we feel like somebodies.”

And I think we have it all wrong when we think that income is the link. What we really yearn for as human beings is to be visible to each other.

And the reason these young guys told me that they’re doing these TEDx’s is because they were sick and tired of the only workshops coming to the slums being those workshops focused on HIV, or at best, microfinance.

And they wanted to celebrate what’s beautiful about Kibera and Mathare — the photojournalists and the creatives, the graffiti artists, the teachers and the entrepreneurs. And they’re doing it. And my hat’s off to you in Kibera.

My own work focuses on making philanthropy more effective and capitalism more inclusive. At Acumen Fund, we take philanthropic resources and we invest what we call patient capital — money that will invest in entrepreneurs who see the poor not as passive recipients of charity, but as full-bodied agents of change who want to solve their own problems and make their own decisions.

We leave our money for 10 to 15 years, and when we get it back, we invest in other innovations that focus on change. I know it works. We’ve invested more than 50 million dollars in 50 companies, and those companies have brought another 200 million dollars into these forgotten markets.

This year alone, they’ve delivered 40 million services like maternal health care and housing, emergency services, solar energy, so that people can have more dignity in solving their problems.

Patient capital is uncomfortable for people searching for simple solutions, easy categories, because we don’t see profit as a blunt instrument. But we find those entrepreneurs who put people and the planet before profit.

ultimately, we want to be part of a movement that is about measuring impact, measuring what is most important to us. And my dream is we’ll have a world, one day, where we don’t just honor those who take money and make more money from it, but we find those individuals who take our resources and convert it into changing the world in the most positive ways.

And it’s only when we honor them and celebrate them and give them status that the world will really change.

11:16 Last May I had this extraordinary 24-hour period where I saw two visions of the world living side-by-side — one based on violence and the other on transcendence.

I happened to be in Lahore, Pakistan on the day that two mosques were attacked by suicide bombers. And the reason these mosques were attacked is because the people praying inside were from a particular sect of Islam who fundamentalists don’t believe are fully Muslim. And not only did those suicide bombers take a hundred lives, but they did more, because they created more hatred, more rage, more fear and certainly despair.

But less than 24 hours, I was 13 miles away from those mosques, visiting one of our Acumen investees, an incredible man, Jawad Aslam, who dares to live a life of immersion. Born and raised in Baltimore, he studied real estate, worked in commercial real estate, and after 9/11 decided he was going to Pakistan to make a difference.

For two years, Jawad hardly made any money, a tiny stipend, but he apprenticed with this incredible housing developer named Tasneem Saddiqui. And he had a dream that he would build a housing community on this barren piece of land using patient capital, but he continued to pay a price. He stood on moral ground and refused to pay bribes. It took almost two years just to register the land. But I saw how the level of moral standard can rise from one person’s action.

Today, 2,000 people live in 300 houses in this beautiful community. And there’s schools and clinics and shops. But there’s only one mosque. And so I asked Jawad, “How do you guys navigate? This is a really diverse community. Who gets to use the mosque on Fridays?” He said, “Long story. It was hard, it was a difficult road, but ultimately the leaders of the community came together, realizing we only have each other. And we decided that we would elect the three most respected imams, and those imams would take turns, they would rotate who would say Friday prayer. But the whole community, all the different sects, including Shi’a and Sunni, would sit together and pray.”

We need that kind of moral leadership and courage in our worlds. We face huge issues as a world — the financial crisis, global warming and this growing sense of fear and otherness. And every day we have a choice.

We can take the easier road, the more cynical road, which is a road based on sometimes dreams of a past that never really was, a fear of each other, distancing and blame. Or we can take the much more difficult path of transformation, transcendence, compassion and love, but also accountability and justice.

I had the great honor of working with the child psychologist Dr. Robert Coles, who stood up for change during the Civil Rights movement in the United States. And he tells this incredible story about working with a little 6-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges, the first child to desegregate schools in the South — in this case, New Orleans.

Robert said that every day this six-year-old, dressed in her beautiful dress, would walk with real grace through a phalanx of white people screaming angrily, calling her a monster, threatening to poison her — distorted faces.

And every day he would watch her, and it looked like she was talking to the people. And he would say, “Ruby, what are you saying?” And she’d say, “I’m not talking.” And finally he said, “Ruby, I see that you’re talking. What are you saying?” And she said, “Dr. Coles, I am not talking; I’m praying.”

And he said, “Well, what are you praying?” And she said, “I’m praying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.'”

At age six, this child was living a life of immersion, and her family paid a price for it. But she became part of history and opened up this idea that all of us should have access to education.

My final story is about a young, beautiful man named Josephat Byaruhanga, who was another Acumen Fund fellow, who hails from Uganda, a farming community. And we placed him in a company in Western Kenya, just 200 miles away. And he said to me at the end of his year, Jacqueline, it was so humbling, because I thought as a farmer and as an African I would understand how to transcend culture. But especially when I was talking to the African women, I sometimes made these mistakes — it was so hard for me to learn how to listen.” And he said, “So I conclude that, in many ways, leadership is like a panicle of rice. Because at the height of the season, at the height of its powers, it’s beautiful, it’s green, it nourishes the world, it reaches to the heavens.” And he said, “But right before the harvest, it bends over with great gratitude and humility to touch the earth from where it came.”

We need leaders. We ourselves need to lead from a place that has the audacity to believe we can, ourselves, extend the fundamental assumption that all men are created equal to every man, woman and child on this planet. And we need to have the humility to recognize that we cannot do it alone.

Robert Kennedy once said that “few of us have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events.” And it is in the total of all those acts that the history of this generation will be written.

Our lives are so short, and our time on this planet is so precious, and all we have is each other. So may each of you live lives of immersion. They won’t necessarily be easy lives, but in the end, it is all that will sustain us.




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